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How do I improve my radio reception?

FM radio signals travel best in a straight line. If you can see the transmitting antenna, you can usually get a good signal. Beyond that, FM reception can be a tricky 'dark art' but there are several simple things to try that may noticeably improve reception.

FM Antennas

There are several different types of antennas for receiving FM radio. The antenna can be a piece of wire that comes out of the back of the radio; the "T" shaped wire antenna that comes with many hi-fi systems; a sophisticated amplified electronic gadget with an odd shape; or an outdoor antenna on a mast, similar to a TV antenna.

Close Proximity

If you are near WICN's transmitter (in Boylston, MA), a short (3-foot) piece of wire will probably suffice. The position of the wire may be critical and as with all antennas, ideally it should be as near a window as possible. If the window faces toward the transmitter's antenna, all the better. Depending on the radio, it may already have a wire attached permanently or hooked to a screw on the back, usually labeled 'Antenna' or 'Ant.' or '75 Ohm.' Move the free end of the wire around to find the spot that sounds best.

Further Away

At a little distance away from the transmitter (5-10 miles), the "T" antenna becomes a minimum requirement. This antenna should also be near or actually in the window, with the 'arms' of the "T" stretched out horizontally side to side, facing Boylston (picture yourself looking in the direction of Boylston; spread your arms out, and you can get an idea what the antenna should resemble). Once again, the best position will be found by listening and moving the antenna. You may need to step away from the antenna after you position it, because your body will tend to affect the reception. The "T" antenna will need a radio with two antenna terminals. If the radio only has a cable TV type ('coaxial' or 75 Ohm') connection, you'll need to go to the nearest electronics store and purchase a "300 Ohm to 75 Ohm transformer," which will convert the two wires of the "T" to the proper connector type.


Once you get beyond 20 miles or so, reception can be a little more difficult, particularly around lots of buildings or hills. Since FM travels 'line-of-sight,' the more obstructions between you and the broadcast tower, the harder it is to get clear reception. The best solution will be an outside antenna, mounted on a mast or the roof of a house or garage, pointed toward Boylston. There are numerous outdoor antennas to choose from that are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Guaranteed Fix

If none of the above suggestions improve your reception of WICN, turn to the internet. WICN broadcasts all of its programming on the web at All you need is an internet connection, a computer with a sound-card, and Windows Media Player software. This fix is guaranteed to work anywhere in the world.

Of Interest

Know Your Host:
Al Dean

Al grew up listening to the music of the 40’s on his father’s EH Scott radio and 78 records. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Goodman were family favorites. This is first experience in the broadcasting field and allows him to dig into his closet of old vinyls and share them with his audience on the Sunday afternoon edition of the Jazz Matinee.

Tune in to Jazz Matinee
Sundays, 12 to 4 pm


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